News Local/State

Department Head Discusses U Of I’s Reported Decision On Prof. Salaita


A week after the University of Illinois reportedly withdrew a job offer to a professor who posted controversial comments on Twitter, the head of the department overseeing that position says the decision harms the university’s reputation and ability to attract talented professors.

Robert Warrior directs the U of I’s American Indian Studies program. He said Steven Salaita told him the university emailed a letter telling him of its decision, which came after Salaita resigned from his previous job at Virginia Tech.

"He has no explanation, and frankly, as a unit executive officer, I also don’t have an explanation," he said.

Warrior says it’s an issue of academic freedom and that none of the comments by Salaita – many critical of Israel -- justify losing a job.

Others, including U of I professor Cary Nelson, say academic freedom only applies to current employees, not prospective hires.

The University says it does not comment on personnel matters. Salaita did not respond to interview requests.